The Art of Asynchronous Conversation

“If only I could TALK to my prospects, they’d definitely buy my product or service… but talking (sales) doesn’t SCALE.”

It seems that a lot of online businesses would rather build a web page that “converts” (whatever that means) at 1 percent to getting on the phone (much less meeting) a prospect that might convert at 60 percent.

And, because we want to “convert” people and “move them through our funnel”, we do all sorts of kind of nasty things – tracking pixels, cookies, re-targeting ads,… you know, things WE complain about when they are done to us.

Quick Question – What online marketing tools do you use vs. which ones do you dislike being used on you? (totally optional… no email required)

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Be our Guest

Some businesses are changing their thinking about privacy willingly. Some in response to moves by Apple and Google (who are making these changes for their own reasons).

But, what if, instead, we started with the idea that we’ll best serve our customers/prospects/visitors/guests (and they are our GUESTS… who we should treat well – right?) and focused on helping them.

This may not lead to “selling” them anything.


Maybe we’ll give them some information that is useful to them.

… or point them to somewhere (or someone) who can help them.

… even if they are our competitor (is that even meaningful in a global market?).

… or just listen to them.

 A conversation.

(or half of one)

Since we aren’t there.

With the simple, sole objective of being helpful.

Maybe there is a revolution afoot

“Ungating content” seems to be the HOT FASHION for the Spring 2021 season. If you’ve got some useful content, simply share it (still brand it), no emails or personal information needed.

65Now, people are extra excited as their conversion rates (to actual sales) are going up… though some worry this may just be a fad…. but, what if, instead, it is a side effect of treating people like we’d want to be treated.

… when you’re at a networking event (OK, WERE at a networking event back in 2019)… did you share ideas pretty freely – or insist on a business card or email first?

15-minute rule

Back when I was in the computer security business, I used to use a “15 minute rule”… where I’d pretty much help anyone with anything for 15 minutes before I even considered thinking about “selling” them on my services… (and I tended to run on well past 15 minutes… because I tend to run on).

What about you?

Funnels, chat-bots, and squeeze pages Oh My!

It isn’t about “faking” connection, or driving “prospects” through a funnel like cattle to the slaughter, it is about opening up real conversations between real people.

  • Do you actually start research when you are “ready to buy”?
  • Have you referred businesses that you haven’t used, just because they have treated you well?
  • Have you signed up for mail lists just to be kept informed about a product that you might buy… eventually? … and then gotten “purged” off of their list for not being “active” enough?

What if sales and marketing is a long game? Hard to quantify (and perhaps impossible to quantify). Especially when information is “free”-ish.

Instead of trying to purge people or “qualify” them or keep a “clean list”, we make it easy for people to join and leave, but try to provide as much actual value while we have their potential attention as possible?

Short-Circuiting the Loyalty Loop

Andrew Davis has a great YouTube channel series where he is developing the idea of the “Loyalty Loop“. One of his most interesting ideas is to “short circuit” rational decision making by becoming a default choice or referral. There are lots of ways to do this, but many of them are based on providing that something “extra” that makes people think of you before they need to think of you… or even know that they want to think of you.

We don’t search on the Internet anymore, we “Google” it (though Google seems to be working hard to undo that trust).

While we may check for a restaurant on Yelp, much better is the personal referral.

Not a “Testimonial” on a web site, but an actual referral from a friend.

The only way to build that authentic “word of mouth” is to provide amazing value.

Last week, a friend of mine (not close) told me that they were studying Javascript. I heard Rick and Tyler rave about Wes Bos‘s training courses on their podcast Startup to  Last….and volunteered the referral.

… totally for free.

… of a product that I haven’t used.

… based on a sidebar recommendation (though I’ve heard good things before elsewhere also in sidebar discussions).

In my real estate business, my model has become “provide an excellent home at a fair price”.

To the extent possible, I want my customers (tenants) to be super happy with the home that I’m providing them.

Apparently, this has led to our first referral from one current tenant to a new prospect.


How do we do it?

How do we have a conversation with someone who “isn’t there” when we are? On a web page, in an email?

How can we be relentlessly helpful and useful and figure out how to be more helpful and useful while being respectful of the dignity, time, and privacy of the person we are “talking” to?

Polls, forms, anonymous comments, … how do we generously open a conversation with the same expectation that we have face-to-face… not that we’ll “get” something out of it, but that we’ll help another person?

Our tools aren’t great.

Funnels, funnels everywhere…

Funnel thinking drives funnel tools because funnels are easy to analyze and value…

Conversion Stage 1 x Conversion Stage 2 x Conversion Stage 3 x … x ProjectedCustomerValue = Expected Revenue

… but this is the expected value of the Funnel Model itself. The validity of the funnel is implicitly accepted.

Measuring the tricky to measure

When I worked in computer security, justifying security spending was (and is) a nightmare. The problem obsessed me for years (and may have been part of what burned me out).

Everyone agrees that “security is good”.

But figuring out “how much” is a huge problem.

I finally came up with an approach (too late for my security career).. thanks to Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.You can’t break out “security” or “quality” or “safety” separately by component.

… Never get on an airplane where someone allocates the safety of a plane down to the individual nut or bolt!

Instead, look at performance in aggregate, and compare in aggregate… for security:

Security of System 1 (total cost of everything in System 1, including security) vs. Security of System 2 (total cost of everything in system 2, including security)

Typically, we’d look at the relative cost of the security systems, but this is deceptive in terms of the total system cost. One security system may be notably more expensive than the other, but not relative to the total cost of the system (no one spends a ton on security.. No One).

Let’s apply this same view to our marketing/communication strategy… and simplify for total revenue:

Total Net Revenue Option 1 (everything including quality communications) vs. Total Net Revenue Option 2 (everything including other quality communications)

or profit or whatever.

I would argue that OFTEN the marginal cost of substantially improving the quality of customer/prospect/guest communications is not what will drive our costs… and has a robust effect on our performance.

(THIS MATH NEEDS TO BE REDONE MORE CLEARLY… your comments would be VERY helpful).

How far can you push the conversation?

This is an experiment. I have no idea how “conversational” I can make a web page without it becoming annoying and not useful. We have good tools for publishing information in written of video form to create a one-way “push”, but all of the likes, emojis, and comments we have don’t really seem to create a conversation

What do you think?

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